Luke Johnson Has Solid Rookie Sportsman Season Finishes TORC SRT Limited 2 Second Overall El Cajon, CA (September 9, 2009) - Luke Johnson brought his Charlie's Automotive BFGoodrich Tire Chevy Silverado to Crandon looking to finish his rookie ...
Luke Johnson Has Solid Rookie Sportsman Season
Finishes TORC SRT Limited 2 Second Overall
El Cajon, CA (September 9, 2009) - Luke Johnson brought his Charlie's Automotive BFGoodrich Tire Chevy Silverado to Crandon looking to finish his rookie season in the TORC Sportsman series with enough points to claim the runner-up spot in the Limited 2 Championship standings. After Round 8, Keith Steele was crowned the class champion, but the rest of podium was up for grabs. The first visit to Crandon, earlier in the year, saw the California native take the runner-up spot in the second round of the season, and the team was looking to repeat its earlier success.
When the #248 Chevy was unloaded from the trailer, it was sporting the Chevy Thunder paint scheme celebrating Jack Flannery's induction to the Off- Road Hall of Fame. The truck was a great symbol of the future of short course off-road racing honoring its legendary racers.
The Friday afternoon saw Luke Johnson turn the third fastest lap in SRT Limited 2 practice session. Sean and the guys only had a couple of hours before racing began under the lights on Crandon's Short-Short track. As the sun went down and the lights came on over 10,000 fans had filled the spectator hill.
Due to racing under the lights, the lineup had the trucks lined up two by two, with Luke starting in the second row. When the green flag dropped, Luke thundered down the front straight grabbing the lead with #7 Baudoux right on his bumper. The two competitors ran in tandem until lap five, when Luke put his ProPower Chevy up "on the bike" allowing Dan Baudoux to grab the lead.
Just before the mandatory caution lap, a crack developed in one of the exhaust headers, reducing the engine's output. Undaunted, Luke continued on finishing in seventh place. Before the header problem, the #248 Chevy just missed setting fast lap of the round. Luke was just .03 seconds off the best lap time posted by Keith Steele.
The crew quickly went to work repairing the cracked header, as well as the usual between round maintenance. The next morning after the header repair, the engine was fired up, but all was not well. The header damage had overheated one of the cylinders which caused it to loose compression. Unfortunately there wasn't enough time for an engine change, so Luke lined up to race with his focus on completing the race.
The final race of the season had Luke Johnson in survival mode, or so everyone thought. The land rush start saw the #248 Chevy Thunder machine staying out of trouble and passing several of his competitors in the process. On lap four, Luke had moved up to fourth place, running a fairly fast pace, when the truck rolled in the Argonne Loop, ending his Sportsman season. The eleventh place finish was still enough to finish second overall in the 2009 TORC Series presented by AMSOIL SRT Limited 2 division.
"Driving this truck in Limited 2 here in the Midwest has been an awesome experience," noted Luke Johnson. "It was a steep learning curve, but thanks to my dad, Shawn, Charlie, and everyone that's given us a hand, we handled it fairly well. Hopefully I have gained the respect of my fellow drivers, and with the possible move to the PRO level next year. I'll continue to improve and eventually give dad some added competition."
For the season Luke Johnson finished in the Top-5 in eight of the ten rounds of racing, including one runner-up finish and four third place finishes.
Congratulations to the 2009 Traxxas TORC Series presented by AMSOIL SRT Limited 2 champion, Keith Steele.
The TORC Midwest Sportsman season may be over, but Luke Johnson is heading back home to Southern California with the possibility of competing in the final rounds on the West Coast.
"The Limited 2 and PRO-2WD trucks are almost identical except for the engine," commented Luke Johnson. " We had an oil fire on Sunday and it melted most of the truck's wiring. If we can replace the wiring and get our engine repaired, we might be able to mount BFGoodrich Project tires on our KMC Wheels to race Perris. There isn't much time, and a decision to compete won't be made until the week of the race."
The next TORC PRO-2WD weekend of racing is September 25-26, at the Perris Auto Speedway in Perris, California.